Carlo Gambino – The End

On July 13, 1967 Gaetano “Tommy” Lucchese developed a fatal brain tumor and died at his home in Long Island. Over 1000 mourners attended his funeral including several levels of Mafia associates, politicians, and placement. Gambino organized the funeral and hand-picked Carmine “Gribbs” Tramunti as Lucchese’s successor.

On June 28, 1971 Joe Colombo boss of the Colombo crime family was set to speak at the second annual Congress of Italo-America Organizations rally, a division of his Italian-American Civil Rights League when he was shot by an African-American man who was subsequently shot and killed by Colombo security guards. Although shot in the head, Colombo didn’t die of his wounds but stayed in a vegetative state until his death in 1977. Speculation around his assassination revolves around several factors, one being the American Mafia’s distaste for Colombo and the spotlight he brought upon organized crime. It’s been passed around that crazy Joe Gallo organized the hit using black gang relationships he developed while in prison. The increasing media attention by Colombo and his league was too much to bear and Gallo was looking for retribution from an earlier fight. The scenario could in fact be true as Joe Gallo was murdered not long after on April 7, 1972.

Another scenario puts Carlo Gambino as the person who ordered the hit and Colombo for bringing too much attention to Cosa Nostra, but this theory has not been proven as Gambino had nothing to gain from Colombo’s death.

Charles "Lucky" Luciano

Charles “Lucky” Luciano

On January 26, 1962 Charles “Lucky” Luciano died of a heart attack while walking through Naples international airport on his way to Germany. Although he was kicked out of the United States for life, in death he was allowed to be buried at St. John’s Cemetery in 1972 more than 10 years after his death. Over 2000 mourners attended his funeral. Carlo Gambino, a friend and confidant of Luciano was the only boss of New York to attend his funeral.

By 1972 Gambino was under watch by the FBI, had dealt with family members kidnappings and death, and was growing increasingly upset by the actions of his underboss Neil Dellacroce and his protégé John Gotti. Until this point Gambino had managed to rise to the top of the American Mafia by keeping a low profile and managing his businesses quietly. However, with many of the men he grew up with now dead, and as the most powerful boss in the United States he was facing increased pressure and began to reorganize the Gambino crime family.

His first order of business was to restructure the hierarchy and put in place a second underboss below him. Neil Dellacroce, his longtime underboss and apparent air to the throne was already established having several men working under him. Gambino promoted his brother-in-law Paul Castellano as the second underboss, and where Dellacroce knew how to handle the up-and-coming mafioso and the dirty side of the business, Castellano was more of a businessman. Gambino put Castellano in charge of all the white-collar crimes through Brooklyn. He controlled the recycling, construction, unions, and wire fraud businesses that brought in millions each year to the Gambino crime family. The move to create a second underboss effectively split the family down the middle, one side being led by Dellacroce and the other by Castellano. It was effective and brilliant. It was also one of the last major decisions of the long time mafia boss.

New Gambino family boss, Paul Castellano

On October 15, 1976 Gambino suffered a heart attack and died at his home. Before his death Gambino met with the hierarchy of his family and appointed his brother-in-law Paul Castellano as his successor, a blow to his longtime underboss Neil Delacroce and one that would spark one of the most public Mafia boss assassinations in history.

Aniello “Neil” Dellacroce – Traditional Cosa Nostra and John Gotti Mentor

Aniello “Neil” Dellacroce was born in New York on March 15, 1914 to Italian American immigrants named Francesco and Antoinette Dellacroce. He had had one brother, Carmine and grew up in Little Italy, a section of Manhattan. As an adult he would sometimes wear a priest uniform to throw off law enforcement as he climbed the ladder to become the underboss of the Gambino crime family and mentor to the infamous John Gotti.

Dellacroce worked as a butcher assistant as a teenager but when work became scarce he resorted to a life of crime. As an adult he stood 5ft 10 inches tall with brood shoulders. In the 1930’s Dellacroce joined the Mangano crime family under Vincent Mangano and by the 1950’s became a capo under Albert Anastasia after he had Mangano killed. He bought the Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy, which became a popular Gambino social club. As a fierce Anastasia follower, Dellacroce is thought to have participated in several murders at his request. However, as a traditional Cosa Nostra mobster, Dellacroce followed mafia tradition and remained quiet when Anastasia was murdered on October 25, 1957. Then underboss Carlo Gambino took over as boss of the family. The commission renamed the family to Gambino.
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Gambino Family – The most publicized of the “Five Families”

The Gambino crime family is the most publicized family of the American Mafia. It’s one of “Five Families” based out of New York that dominates organized crime in the United States. The Gambino family got its name from previous boss Carlo Gambino who controlled the family from 1959 until his death in October 1976.

The family got its start in the late 1800’s as the Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila gang of Manhattan who joined the established Morello gang. They were the first Italian American gang in New York, and possibly the entire United States. Their reign lasted for twenty years until the matriarch of the family, Giuseppe Morello and his underboss, Ignazio Saietta, were sent to prison after a counterfeiting conviction. Realizing the gang was in rough shape; D’Aquila split away from the remaining members and formed his own gang in East Harlem. Using his established connections with other Mafia leaders, D’Aquila’s gang quickly became a powerful influence in New York.

Early History

Through a series of shifts of power from one gang to another, Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila formed alliances with other Mafia bosses and took down the weaker gangs absorbing their rackets. From 1910-1917 D’Aguila established and reestablished the largest Italian gang in New York. They controlled more rackets than any other gang in the area.

Nineteen-twenty brought prohibition outlawing the sale and distribution of alcohol, and a well-paid illegal racket for the New York gangs. During this time more gangs emerged with the first gang being a spinoff of the ailing Morello gang based in the Bronx and East Harlem. It was led by Gaetano Reina, an intelligent businessman who not only went after the unlawful sale and distribution of alcohol, but had complete control over icebox distribution in the city. His gang would later become the Lucchese Crime family one of the “Five Families” of New York.

The second gang to emerge in the 1920’s was led by a fierce and powerful mobster name Joe Profaci. His gang would later become the final of the “Five Families” to be established named the Colombo crime family.

In 1920, the Morello gang had disbanded with its members leaving or joining other gangs around New York. This left D’Aquilla and his only real rival Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria in control of New York. Masseria had taken over the interests of the Morello family and by late 1920 he was looking for further expansion, but D’Aquilla was standing in his way.

In 1928 D’Aquilla, was gunned down by Masseria murderer’s leaving D’Aquilla’s second in command Alfred Mineo in charge of the family. It wouldn’t last. In late 1930 Masseria murderers gunned down Mineo and his top lieutenant Steve Ferrigno, and seized control of the Mineo family and their assets. With the assassination, Masseria became the most powerful boss in New York.

Nineteen-thirty-one brought about more change for the Masseria family. Joe Masseria had a fight on his hands and his name was Salvatore Maranzano. His family had quietly taken uproots in New York and with his leadership had taken a large chunk of Masseria’s business. In April of 1931 seeing the shift in power, some of Masseria’s own members murdered Masseria in a restaurant allowing Maranzano to take control of his family. Maranzano declared himself the Capo D tutti Capi (boss of bosses) of all New York. Maranzano was no idiot. He knew one man would not reign supreme for long, so he divided the New York gangs into “Five Families” and kept the top seat for himself.

Meyer Lansky

In September 1931, just five months after creating the five families, Lucky Luciano called on a small team of assassins to murder Maranzano. Once completed, Lucky and his family (later known as Genovese) further organized the five families creating “The Commission” where each boss of the five families would hold a seat. This Commission would reign as the supreme leader of New York for generations arbitrating disputes between families and preventing gang warfare.

In the same month, Luciano replaced the acting boss of the D’Aquila/Mineo gang, with mobster Vincent Mangano calling them the Mangano family. Mangano was given a seat on the commission. Mangano led the family with old mob traditions teaching the members honor, tradition, and respect above all else. He also led his family into extortion, horse betting, union racketeering, and murder. He’s credited with starting the most feared group of hired killers ever known to the mafia, Murder Incorporated. This group of mainly Jewish Americans was hired by several of the five families to do their dirty work. The most feared of the group was Mangano family underboss Albert Anastasia.

Mangano and his brother Philip didn’t mesh well with Anastasia although they worked with each other for several years; they were not close and rarely agreed. Mangano didn’t trust Anastasia and as Albert’s power within Murder Incorporated grew, so did Mangano’s distrust. In April 1951, 20 years after appointment by Luciano as boss of the Mangano crime family, Vincent Mangano was found murdered, and his brother disappeared.

The Commission condemned Anastasia for the murders, and although he denied involvement, they had no choice but to put him in control of the Mangano family. Thus the Anastasia family was born with Albert firmly in control and an up-and-coming member named Carlo Gambino as his second in command. In 1952 with help from Frank Costello boss of the Luciano crime family Anastasia had gained control over the commission.

 As a feared gun, Anastasia’scontrol was short lived. He made a series of mistakes in the eyes of the

Carlo Gambino

Commission. He ordered the murder of a man who aided in the capture of a notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. He also opened competition casinos in Cuba enraging Meyer Lansky who opened casino’s years earlier. It was the final act of disobedience, Anastasia had to go.

 In 1957 Genovese and Meyer Lansky called on Anastasia’s underboss Carlo Gambino to aid with the take down of Anastasia. With the backing of the Commission, they offered Gambino the top spot in the Anastasia family. In May of the same year Costello escaped a Genovese-organized assassination attempt and quickly resigned as boss. Shortly after, Gambino learned Costello and Anastasia were working on their own plot to take down Genovese.

 In October of 1957 while Anastasia was sitting in the barbershop at Park Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, several masked assassins entered and fired several rounds into Anastasia killing him instantly. With Anastasia’s death, Gambino was promoted by the Commission as boss of the Anastasia family, what is now the Gambino crime family. He appointed Aniello (Neil) Dellacroce in 1965 as underboss.

Over his reign the Gambino crime family gained a strong influence over the construction industry. They influenced the teamsters and unions that controlled the building materials coming into New York. At any given time the Gambino’s could bring the entire construction industry to a stop if they chose.

October 15, 1976 Carlo Gambino’s 19-year rule ended after he suffered a heart attack and died. As he directed before his death, Paul Castellano an up-and-coming Mafioso and keen business leader took over the Gambino family. Neil Dellacroce remained in the underboss position and was instructed by Castellano to control the traditional Cosa Nostra activities while he worked the more white- collar activities involving embezzlement and construction schemes.By the early 1980’s Castellano created a barrier from the family and him. Dellacroce was the only person allowed to speak with the boss and deliver his messages and actions to the family. Several made members found this alienation to be a slap in the face. One of Castellano’s biggest critics was a tough Italian with a large following within the family named John Gotti.

 Gotti followed the old school Mafioso traditions closely. He felt the boss of the family needed to show respect to the made members and Castellano was doing anything but. Gotti admired and respected Dellacroce who also followed old school rules. Dellacroce who was in failing health, kept Gotti and the defectors at ease with Castellano until Delacroce’s death on December 2, 1985. Two weeks later, Gotti seized power having Castellano and his underboss Tommy Bilotti murdered outside the Sparks Steak House on December 16, 1985.

Junior Gotti

Gotti’s control over the Gambino crime family lasted for 7 years. Many of them spent in the court room as Gotti was tried over and over. He earned the nickname “Teflon Don” for earning acquittals in each case. Finally on April 2, 1992 Gotti and his Consigliere Frank LoCascio were convicted and received life sentences without the possibility of parole. Gotti continued to rule the family from prison and left the day-to-day to capo’s John D’Amico, and Nicholas Corozzo. Gotti died in prison in 2002. Since Gotti’s death, several men have taken control of the family including Gotti’s son John “Junior” Gotti who is now considered to be boss of the family.

Carlo Gambino – American Mafia Made Man at 19 Part 1 of 4

     “Don” Carlo Gambino was born on August 24, 1902 in Caccamo, a province of Palermo Sicily. He had two brothers, Gaspare who was never involved in the Mafia, and Paolo who would eventually work alongside his brother in the American Mafia.

     In Italy, Gambino’s family belonged to the Honored Society, an Italian version of the Black Hand in the United States. The Black Hand was a less organized version of Italian gangsters, most of which immigrated to the United States.

     In 1921 Gambino illegally boarded a ship headed for the United States. It’s been said he ate nothing but anchovies and wine during the month-long trip. Once in the United States he joined his cousins, the Castellano’s in New York City. The Castellano’s were already affiliated with the D’Aquila gang, and quickly introduced Gambino as a new member. By the end of 1921 at the age of 19, Carlo Gambino became and “made man” of the American Mafia.

Jewish Gangster Meyer Lansky

Around the same time Gambino also became close with an Italian and Jewish gang called the “Young Turks” in New York. The gang included notables such as, Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, Frank Scalise, Settimo Accardi, Tommy Lucchese, Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, and Mickey Cohen. The Turks were led by Charles “Lucky” Luciano, the future creator of the mafia Commission.

     After several years of fighting for territory among the different gangs in and around New York, two men emerged holding the most power. Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano a Palermo bore mafioso who recently arrived in the United States. Maranzano quickly inserted himself in extortion and gambling operations that directly competed with Masseria. On October 10, 1928 Masseria had rival Toto D’Aquila, once the most powerful mobster in New York, murdered clearing the way for him to become the “Boss of Bosses”. However, Maranzano and the Castellammarese Clan he brought with him from Palermo, stood in his way.

     In 1930, Masseria flexed his muscle and went after Marranzano’s then boss, Nicola “Cola” Schiro demanding a $10,000 tribute. Schiro, fearing for his life against the more powerful Masseria paid the tribute, and fled New York leaving Maranzano as the gang’s new leader. It was this move that set the wheels in motion for the start of one of the largest gangland wars in history; the Castellammarese War.

     By 1931, Masseria had begun to eliminate Maranzano’s Castellammarese Clan. His goal was to weaken Maranzano and take over New York. However, Maranzano would not go down without a fight and declared war on Masseria and anyone else who aligned themselves with him.

     Gambino and Alfred Mineo the new leader of the D’Aquila gang aligned with Masseria. Half of the Young Turks joined as well, with the others aligning with Maranzano.  The Castellammarese Clan included Joe Bonanno, Stefano Magaddino, and the Profaci crime family, which included Joseph Profaci and Joseph Magliocco. Former Masseria allies Gaetano Reina, boss of the Reina family and Tommy Lucchese also joined the Castellammarese and Maranzano.

     The war went on between these two factions for nearly 4 years. It was the height of prohibition where profits were large; however the war almost completely destroyed many of the New York family rackets. Luciano and members of the Young Turks from both sides began to realize the war needed to stop and stop soon or much of what they took so long to build in New York City would be lost. During the war many of the Jewish and Irish crime families became the dominant families in New York. Meyer Lansky, a Jewish mobster and close confidant of Luciano felt that Masseria and Maranzano were old-school mafioso who were too greedy to see the riches that could be had by working with non-Italians. Gambino and the Young Turks agreed and decided to end the war and form a national syndicate led by Charles Luciano.

     On April 15, 1931 Masseria was murdered by Luciano associates Albert Anastasia,

Joe “the Boss” Masseria dead with an Ace of Spades in his hand. This card was likely planted.

Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, and Bugsy Siegel while dining at Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant in Coney Island. With Masseria out of the way, Marranzano declared himself the Boss of Bosses and with the help of Luciano’s vision, re-organized the New York gangs into five Mafia families. Vincent Mangano was promoted and took over Masseria’s Mineo family. Young Turk, Albert Anastasia became his underboss and Gambino was promoted to Capo.

     On September 10, 1931 Maranzano was murdered by Luciano gunmen ending his reign as Boss of Bosses. With Maranzano gone Luciano called a meeting of all the bosses in New York and the United States. During this meeting many of the bosses including Al Capone of the Chicago Outfit expected Luciano to declare himself Boss of Bosses. However, Luciano had another idea and during the meeting laid out his plan to create The Commission, a ruling panel of crime family leaders which would mediate conflicts between the families. The leaders nominated Luciano, Joe Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Tommy Gagliano, and Vincent Mangano as its inaugural members.

     With a seat on the Commission, the Mangano family set out to become one of the most powerful mafia families in the country. Gambino quickly became one of the family’s top earners and controlled several illegal rackets including loansharking, illegal gambling, and protection.

Roy Albert DeMeo – Leader of the Gambino Family Murder for Hire

Roy Albert DeMeo was born on September 7, 1942 in Bath Beach Brooklyn to working class Italian immigrants. In 1959 DeMeo graduated from James Madison High School with an accomplished loan shark business bringing in hundreds of dollars each week.

After leaving James Madison High School DeMeo married and fathered three children. He also continued his loan sharking business and by 1966 caught the attention of the Gambino crime family and in particular Nino Gaggi, who was a very accomplished racketeer.

Gaggi saw the potential in having DeMeo work for him. He told DeMeo he could make even more money with his business if he came to work for the Gambino’s. DeMeo accepted and Gaggi and DeMeo immediately set up their own loan sharking business. Once that was running, the two branched out and formed a crew for DeMeo that specialized in car theft. His crew would become known as the DeMeo crew and the Gemini crew and included Richard “Iceman” Kuklinski, Chris Rosenberg, Joseph Guglielmo,

DeMeo Crew

Anthony Senter, Henry Borelli, and Joey Testa.

As DeMeo grew his illegal business, he also developed himself as a legitimate businessman. He joined the Brooklyn Credit Union as a member of the board of directors and used his position to launder money for Rosenberg who had a healthy income from dealing in drugs. Before long, DeMeo had several loan sharking businesses running from the credit union and was making hundreds of thousands each year.

In 1973 at the age of 30 DeMeo committed his first murder. DeMeo and Gaggi were slient partners in a porno lab. The proprietor, Paul Rothernberg was arrested by the police and DeMeo believed he would fold under pressure and talk to the police. Once he was released on bail awaiting trial, DeMeo summoned him to a meeting at a local diner, and then shot him to death in a nearby alley.

The following year DeMeo was involved in another murder when a young bodyshop owner Andrei Katz began to cooperate with the police after an altercation with DeMeo. In June 1975 Katz was lured and confronted by DeMeo and some of his crew. Katz was abducted stabbed and dismembered. A woman who had a role in luring Katz confessed to the police and Joseph Testa and Henry Borelli were arrested. The stood trial in 1976 and were acquitted.

After the Katz murder, DeMeo and his crew began committing mafia sanctioned hits. The DeMeo crew would lure their targets to the Gemini Club where they would kill them, bleed them dry, and then cut them into pieces to be disposed of. There exact method of murder was explained by soldier turned informant Frederick DiNome who said, the target would be lured into the back of the Gemini club at which point someone, usually DeMeo, would shoot them and quickly wrap a towel around their head to prevent blood loss. Then another of his crew would stab the person in the heart to lessen the flow of blood from their head. After letting the body bleed in the bathtub, they would cut the body into pieces and drop it in several location.

At the time the police were not aware the DeMeo crew was a killing machine, however after testimony from other Mafioso in the 1990’s they learned the DeMeo crew was responsible for over 200 hundred murders; more than Anastasia’s Murder Inc.

In 1977 Roy DeMeo officially became a member of the Gambino family. The current boss of the family, Paul Castellano reluctantly agreed to “open the books” for DeMeo after DeMeo arbitrated an agreement with the Westies gang who was feuding with the Gambino’s.

In November 1978 DeMeo and his crew murdered one of their own, Danny Grillo. Grillo, who has fallen into heavy debt with DeMeo, was killed after both DeMeo and Naggi felt Grillo would run to law enforcement for safety.

The following year, DeMeo struck again killing the very first member of the DeMeo crew, Chris Rosenberg. Rosenberg was involved in a drug deal with a Colombian drug cartel. Instead of conducting business as usual, Rosenberg murdered all of them, taking the money and the drugs. When Naggi found out about the killings, he feared the Colombian drug cartel would start a war, so to keep them calm, he ordered DeMeo to murder Rosenberg.

After stalling for weeks, DeMeo thought a young college student Dominick Ragucci who was parked outside DeMeo’s house, was a Colombian hitman. DeMeo approached Ragucci and a car chase ensured. DeMeo fired several shots at the student until his car was disabled, then DeMeo walked up to Ragucci and fired several shots into his head killing him. DeMeo son later wrote in his book For The Sins of My Father, when DeMeo found out he murdered a college student just trying to make a living as a door to door salesman, he started crying.

After hearing of the murder, Naggi again ordered DeMeo to kill Rosenberg. On May 11, 1979 Rosenberg, who had no idea he was a target arrived at a meeting with DeMeo and others from his crew. DeMeo shot Rosenberg in the head at point blank range. When Rosenberg rose from one knee, DeMeo couldn’t pull the trigger again and Anthony Senter fired four shots into the back of his head. Rosenberg’s body was left in his car parked out in the open to be found and squash the bad blood with the Colombians.

By 1982 the FBI had been conducting surveillance on DeMeo trying to gather enough evidence to convict him for several murders. During their surveillance they picked up a conversation between Gene and John Gotti, that Gambino boss, Paul Castellano had put a hit contract out on DeMeo. Castellano, who was more of a businessman than a thug, was tired of the DeMeo crew, and wanted to disband them. The problem he was having was he couldn’t find anyone who would take the contract. Most in the family feared DeMeo and his crew should they not succeed.

Police photo of Roy DeMeo after he was found shot to death and his body placed in the trunk of his car.

John Gotti was eventually put in charge of the DeMeo contracted and handed it to DeMeo crew members Joseph Testa and Anthony Senter. On January 10, 1983, DeMeo went to Patty Testa’s house for a meeting with his men. His body was found on January 20th in the trunk of his car. It was said that Joseph Testa and Anthony Senter fired the shots that killed DeMeo, however due to the FBI surveillance; Paul Castellano was indicted on murder charges among other charges. Castellano never made it to trial and was murdered along with his underboss on the orders of Gambino capo John Gotti.


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